puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzling (audio) , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic : complicate, entangle
3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity
2a : something that puzzles
b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

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Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər How to pronounce puzzler (audio) , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb

The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Noun

a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been puzzled by the claims from the president, according to Fox News. John T. Bennett, The Seattle Times, "Trump says California diverts water that should be used against fires," 6 Aug. 2018 It's now estimated that over a third of children and adolescents are overweight, but doctors are still puzzled as to why one Colombian baby is suffering from inexplicably rapid weight gain. Andrea Fowler, Redbook, "Parents Desperate to Find Solution to 10-Month-Old's Weight Issue," 16 Jan. 2015 Whether that means going through oils that are leaking in the kitchen, toys that are broken in the playroom, puzzles with missing pieces, etc., these are the items that are easy to get rid of right off the bat. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Home Edit Founders Share Their Top Organizing Tips for 2019," 29 Jan. 2019 In decades of searching for the Golden State Killer, investigators have been puzzled by one mystery more than many of the others. Shelby Grad, latimes.com, "Essential California: A Golden State Killer mystery," 2 May 2018 Porsha has made other puzzling statements on the show. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "The Wigs on The Real Housewives of Atlanta Are Their Own Characters," 29 Mar. 2018 He was similarly puzzled when asked Thursday, citing statutes that compel prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. Anita Chabria And Darrell Smith, sacbee, "This mother is demanding a test for DNA, even if it proves her son is guilty of rape | The Sacramento Bee," 4 May 2018 What’s really puzzling, though, is that in the most recent standoff, the White House was demanding $5 billion for a border wall — a sum that’s not nearly enough to pay for it under any of Trump’s various estimates. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "I’m starting to think Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall," 20 Dec. 2018 Giant footprints puzzle residents,’ a headline in the Humboldt Times announced. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "What happened to coal," 21 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Securing European support is only one piece of the puzzle. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, "U.S. to Revise Military Strategy for Exiting Syria," 22 Feb. 2019 But more importantly, the new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "NASA’s faraway space snowman has flat, not round, behind," 12 Feb. 2019 The puzzles are part of the Times’s push to rely more on subscriptions and less on advertising, which is increasingly dominated by Facebook and Google. BostonGlobe.com, "Nintendo’s dramatic drop leaves investors scrambling for reasons," 5 June 2018 Appealing to kids’ palates is one challenge, but the real puzzle is creating quality meals on a threadbare budget. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "World-Class Chef Reimagines School Lunch In New London," 2 June 2018 Here's a puzzle that will be considered, if not actually solved, at this week's annual Mackinac Policy Conference. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Mackinac Policy Conference could help these 5 Michigan regions," 28 May 2018 Deciphering the show’s puzzles can be thrilling, as fans who’d long suspected the Man in Black (Ed Harris) was an older version of innocent William (Jimmi Simpson) discovered. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Promethean Puzzles of Westworld," 22 Apr. 2018 This bad puzzle of a man is blocking you from feeling your way toward a life that is full and gorgeous. Heather Havrilesky, The Cut, "‘Should I Leave My Amazing But Incredibly Frustrating Relationship?’," 3 Apr. 2018 Another puzzle with anomalies is why they are not arbitraged away. The Economist, "“Factor investing” gains popularity," 1 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

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Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puzzle

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

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More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 : something that perplexes : mystery

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More from Merriam-Webster on puzzle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puzzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puzzle

Spanish Central: Translation of puzzle

Nglish: Translation of puzzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of puzzle for Arabic Speakers

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